New Faculty Member Q&A: Diego Rivera


Tuesday, October 11, 2022
Diego Rivera, Associate Professor
Diego Rivera, Associate Professor

Diego Rivera joins the Butler School of Music faculty as an associate professor. A world-class musician, composer, arranger and educator, Rivera has entertained audiences for over 20 years. Rivera is known for his muscular tone and unique blend of straight-ahead jazz fused with music inspired by his Chicano background and heritage.

Tell us about the classes you’ll be teaching this year.

This year I’m excited to be teaching History of Jazz to a class of primarily undergraduate students, working with 6 outstanding private students and directing our flagship ensemble, The UT Jazz Orchestra.

What attracted you to the Butler School of Music and The University of Texas at Austin?

I was impressed with the sense of community at the Butler School. Everyone I spoke with seemed to be very interested and invested in the success of students and faculty outside of their own areas. I was equally impressed with the quality of the Jazz Studies students and their eagerness to embrace Jazz music. For me personally, the opportunity to work and raise my family closer to my cultural and ancestral homeland of the southwest was a motivating factor. All of this against the backdrop of the ‘Live Music Capital’ of the world made the prospect of leading the Jazz Studies Program here at UT an attractive opportunity.

How did your professional pathway lead to your focus?

My pathway was a bit peculiar and by most standards, backwards. I’ve always known that I wanted to have music in my life every…single…day. How that was going to play out was a mystery to me, but never really a concern. Teaching was never in my list of professional goals, nor was leading a Jazz Studies program. However, my commitment to Jazz music, the art form I love so much, led me to mentors and opportunities to teach, mentor and realized my calling as not only an artist, but also as an educator. So, in a sense, my focus eventually led to my profession.

What’s something that students and colleagues should know about you?

I try to bring out the best in people because so many have brought out the best in me.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not teaching/researching/working?

Spending time with my family brings me the most joy of anything I do. Being the best father and husband I can be is certainly my most important purpose and I work harder at that than anything else because they matter so much to me. I’m also fortunate to have built a career as a touring musician and recording artist. So, I’m always thinking about my next performance, tour, composition, recording, etc. I absolutely love my job and the people it puts me in contact with. I wouldn’t trade my line of work for anything in the world.


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